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Nearly 17,000 people may have died after taking hydroxycholoroquine during the first wave of Covid-19, according to a study by French researchers, Politico reports.

The anti-malaria drug was prescribed to some patients hospitalized with Covid-19 during the first wave of the pandemic, "despite the absence of evidence documenting its clinical benefits," the researchers point out in their paper, published in the February issue of Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy.

Now, researchers have estimated that some 16,990 people in six countries—France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and the US—may have died as a result.

That figure stems from a study published in the Nature scientific journal in 2021 which reported an 11 percent increase in the mortality rate, linked to its prescription against Covid-19, because of the potential adverse effects like heart rhythm disorders, and its use instead of other effective treatments.

It was considered something of a “miracle cure” by the then-US President Donald Trump, who had said: “What do you have to lose? Take it.”

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